The 'Don't Be Suspicious' TikTok Audio Explained

Most users on TikTok have encountered the super silly "don't be suspicious" audio, a repetitive song made from the phrase that has been paired with some hilarious videos. Some show an animal trying not to get caught acting strange — like this girl sneaking her llama into the house or this dog inexplicably walking on its hind legs down the sidewalk. There are also loads of great prank ideas in the audio's tag, like parents pretending Kool-Aid is a Starbucks drink for a kid with FOMO or tricking a Zoom professor into thinking you lost your internet by freezing in a thoughtful pose.

The audio has been used in more than 700,000 videos, garnered millions of likes, and spawned compilation videos on YouTube. But where did the original ruse play out, and did the sneaky singers get away with it? As it turns out, there was definitely foul play afoot when the "don't be suspicious" sound first came on the scene.

The moment was improvised

The viral "don't be suspicious" TikTok trend samples a spontaneous moment from the show "Parks and Recreation," a sitcom which aired from 2009-2015 and featured an incredible ensemble cast including Amy Poehler and Aubrey Plaza (via IMDb). In a 2021 interview with Esquire, the actors who first sang the iconic phrase — Ben Schwartz, who joined the cast as Jean-Ralphio in Season 2, and Jenny Slate who came in as his baby-voiced sister, Mona-Lisa in Season 5 — talked about the strange disembodiment of becoming a viral audio clip. Schwartz said, "Nobody knows it's even Jenny or I, they just think it's a random two people, nut jobs singing 'Don't Be Suspicious.' Like they don't know it's from 'Parks' or anything."

With their weird sing-song line deliveries as well as their over-the-top personae, the fan-favorite characters were arguably the most ridiculous adult siblings on TV. And the song in question came to be after Jean-Ralphio faked his own death for the insurance money — the siblings sang "don't be suspicious" as they dance-walked out of the cemetery at his funeral (where they were eventually caught by their rabbi). 

"Parks and Recreation" regularly let actors improvise with each other, and Slate confirmed that this absurd Season 7 moment wasn't written in the script. She told Esquire that though improved scenes were never guaranteed to air, "there was a lot of improvising between us and a lot of long stupid harmonies with dumb trills. And they always let us do it."